Christian Baldini: Evandro, it is a pleasure to welcome you to California to work with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra as our guest conductor this week. You will be conducting a wonderful program infused by your native Brazil with works by Villa-Lobos, Nepomuceno, and also Gershwin, with the great Japanese/American pianist Natsuki Fukasawa. You started your musical career as a trumpet player. Can you share with us how you transitioned from the trumpet and ended up becoming a conductor?
Evandro Matté: Christian, I started very early on the trumpet, I was 7 years old. At the age of 19, I was already a professional musician. Playing in the orchestra, I always admired the work of the conductors, especially those who achieved different results with the orchestra, with beautiful interpretations. Over time, I began to have the desire to be able to conduct and contribute to the art of classical music. I always had a managerial side and I imagined that I could also contribute to the development of music in my country. These factors led me to pursue a career as a conductor.
CB: You are music director of two important orchestras in Porto Alegre (Brazil). How is the musical landscape there now, and which similarities or differences do you see with other countries?
EM: The classical music scene in Brazil is stable. It hasn’t grown in recent years. We’ve had the same number of orchestras for a long time. What has evolved are the social projects. Many young people in social vulnerability have had the opportunity to study music for free. And this has greatly raised the level of orchestra musicians in Brazil. We now need to create new orchestras to employ these young people.
CB: What are some of the favorite musical projects that you have conducted, and why?
EM: I created two social projects that serve 200 children with classes four times a week. At the Porto Alegre Symphony Orchestra I built the new concert hall. At Orquestra Theatro São Pedro I expanded the program by 50% and in both orchestras I have recorded contemporary Brazilian composers every year. It is important to record what is currently being done in music.
CB: What is your approach to programming? What do you take into account when coming up with seasons for your orchestras?
EM: For me the most important thing is diversification. We make the backbone with traditional concerts, mainly from the romantic and classical periods. But we are looking for different repertoires that suit all tastes: pop music with orchestra, music for children, film music, contemporary repertoire. Every year we perform two operas.
CB: Tell us about Villa-Lobos and Nepomuceno. What are some of the important aspects of their music that you find in these two works? What would you recommend for people who don’t know much about their music?
EM: Villa-Lobos was the most important Brazilian composer. His music has all elements of the diversification of Brazilian society, which has its strong point in mixing different races and ethnicities. There are many different cultures within a single country. He inserted sound and rhythmic elements and popular songs from all corners of Brazil into his work. What I can highlight in Nepomuceno is the beauty of the rhythmic elements of his work and the fight he took on for the nationalization of concert music in Brazil. At that time, only music from outside Brazil was valued.
CB: Lastly, what is your advice for young musicians? We all go through challenges in life. How do we overcome them?
EM: The most important thing is determination. When we want something, we get far. Not always where we would like, but the most important thing is to feel the feeling of having done everything in our power to achieve the goals. And be aware that music elevates the soul. That’s why we have to understand the importance of our profession.
CB: Thank you for your time. We are delighted that you are here to work with our orchestra.
EM: My pleasure. I am very happy to be here and to be able to make music at one of the most important universities in the world.
Performing a prominent role in classical music scenario, Evandro Matté holds the title of Artistic Director in the Porto Alegre Symphony Orchestra (OSPA), the SESC’s International Music Festival – Pelotas, the Theatro São Pedro Orchestra (OTSP) and the Zaffari Community Concerts (CCZ).
Recognized for leading projects with innovative results, he’s responsible for renovating orchestras, undertaking tours in Latin America and setting up social and academic programs. The development of the SESC’s International Music Festival – Pelotas and the renovation of the Music School of OSPA are some of these examples.
Furthermore, Evandro Matté has been fruitfully contributing to Brazilian culture for concepting new territories of classical music, including the construction of Teatro Unisinos and the OSPA House – the only one in South of Brazil designed to orchestral repertoire. While in discography production, his initiatives have been spotlighting national composers and performers throughout.
For his contributions, in 2019 was awarded by the Ministère de la Culture for the insignia of Chevalier de l´Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
He’s frequently invited to collaborate as a guest conductor with orchestras around the world, including recents works in Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, EUA, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Croatia and China.
It was through the trumpet, at the age of 7, that Evandro Matté started his studies in music. When he was 15, he joined the professional orchestra of his hometown, the Symphonic Orchestra of Caxias do Sul. Settled in Porto Alegre, he started his studies at the Music School of OSPA. At the age of 19, he got the OSPA trumpeter chair and started his graduation at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). Thereafter, he specialized at the University of Georgia (USA) and the Conservatoire de Bordeaux (FRA).
Attracted by the conducting, he started to perform as a conductor through festivals and masterclasses, being guided by prestigious maestros, such as the iconic Kurt Masur (ALE). In 2007 he took up the artistic director and conductor Unisinos Anchieta Orchestra as the. Along with the orchestra, he recorded albums emphasizing Latin American composers and performances by virtuous Brazilian musicians.
In 2011 he launched SESC’s International Music Festival – Pelotas, a project he designed in partnership with SESC. With Evandro as the artistic director, the festival has become known as one of the largest and most significant in Latin America. Besides its educational aspect, the festival also stands out for its unique role in fostering the culture of the region where it’s based.
After 25 years as a trumpeter, Evandro Matté took up the position of artistic director of OSPA. With tours, discography production, strengthening educational programs and increasing the technical and artistic level of the orchestra, his years in management are celebrated for putting OSPA back to its position of excellence among Latin American orchestras.
Further to his work ahead of OSPA, in 2013 Evandro Matté assumes the position of artistic director and conductor of the Zaffari Community Concerts (CCZ) and, in 2018, of Theatro São Pedro Orchestra (OTSP).